Red Algae – Characteristics, Uses, reproduction

Introduction of Red Algae :

A marine biologist from the central University of Punjab, Bhatinda has found the two new red algae. The Name has given Hypnea Indica ( after India ) discovered in Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, Somnath Pathan, and Sivrajpur in Gujarat. Hypnea bullata ( This was because of blister marks on the body) from the Kanyakumari and Diu island of Daman and Diu. Algae are mostly aquatic, some being terrestrial also. A few algae grow on other plants. Aquatic algae grow in marine water or freshwater. Most of them are free-living while some are symbiotic.

Morphology :

Morphology of algae

The algal cell wall consists of two layers i.e. inner cellulosic and outer composed of pectin. The algae consist of various types of photosynthetic pigments. Chlorophyll-a (an essential pigment) is present in all groups of algae. The accessory pigments present are chlorophyll-b, chlorophyll-c, and chlorophyll-d, carotenes, xanthophylls, and phycobilins. Phycobilins are of two types i.e. phycocyanins and phycoerythrins. The reserve food material is in the form of starch, laminarin -starch, mannitol. 

Reproduction of algae :

Algae reproduce by three different methods.

  • Vegetative reproduction occurs through fragmentation.
  • Asexual reproduction occurs through the formation of non-motile and motile spores.
  • Sexual reproduction takes place by the formation and fusion of gamete.
Reproduction of algae-Vegetative reproduction-Asexual reproduction

There are several classifications of algae-based on their habitat and pigment present which make one alga different from other algae.

There are several classifications based on pigments one of them is Rhodophyta to which Hypnea indica and Hypnea bullata belong. Hypnea is a red algal genus and well-known carrageanophyte plant which produces carrageenan. Since Hypnea belongs to Rhodophyta(red algae) genus, which produces red pigments, these algae hasare also known as Red algae. They are red because of the presence of chlorophyll A, phycocyanin, and phycoerythrin.

General characteristics of Rhodophytes :

  • The lack of flagella and centrioles shows the presence of photosynthetic pigments.
  • They are found in both marine and freshwater habitats.
  • The mode of nutrition is saprophytic, parasitic, or also epiphytic. They grow on a firm and rigid substrate.
  • The male sex organs are known as spermatogonium and female sex organs are called pro carp.
  • They reproduce Asexually and their reproduction is by monospores and they undergo alternation of generations.

Red Algae Application in our life :

Red algae have several applications in our day to day life and also contribute to maintaining an equilibrium of the marine ecosystem.

  • Algae serves as natural food for aquatic organisms
  • Red algae are important commercial food in Japan.
  • Agar-Agar which had widely used for making jellies and puddings this product has extracted from Red algae.
  • Red algae are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, calcium, magnesium and antioxidants. 
  • They contain dietary fibre which can promote healthy circulation, lower bad cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.

Researcher’s Note on red algae :

The challenge while collecting the samples was planning visits to these sites coinciding with low tides, apart from scanning beaches and seas for long distances, sometimes about 100 km even. We applied morphology with DNA barcoding technique to confirm the novelty of these two species,” said Pushpendu Kundu doctoral student at CUPB.

These species had not abundantly found mainly in the intertidal regions of the sea. The region near the Pamban bridge is an epicentre of algal diversity and needs to be further studied, said Bast Head Of Botany Department at CUPB.

The paper describing this discovery is Botana Marina which is one of the worldwide accepted journals.

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